The spider lillies have been popping up around the yard and neighborhood and apparently across the city. My friend and fellow blogger posted photos of flowers yesterday. Most of the time she blogs about vegan cooking and takes fantastic pictures of very tasty food. I’ve made many a recipe off her site. Check it out here. So, now we have dueling spider lillies. Richard snuck outside while I was holed up in my sewing room (more on that in a future post) and took this shot. He opened the aperture to allow the background to blur a little. I love these flowers because they come up out of nowhere on a single stem and really show off. My nine-year-old picked me one for my birthday. What a sweetie!
My editor called earlier this week to discuss marketing. He was preparing for an in-house meeting with the marketing team and other editors. Luckily, I had already pulled together some thoughts about marketing materials (postcards, fliers, business cards, bookmarks, website), bookstores to approach, and conferences to attend. We brainstormed some about people who might be willing to comment on an advanced copy for us. I did some more quick research and was able to get him some more information to take into his meeting. I’ve picked up much of what I know about marketing and publicity for children’s books from conferences and books. At conferences, I’ve picked up other authors’ materials, studied catalogs, and signed up for marketing workshops. I’ve read that writers can spend up to half their time in the non-writing aspects of the business. As a long-time freelancer, I am well familiar with the querying, filing, and bookkeeping aspects of the business. What I am not used to is pitching myself as part of the product. I know I am still offering a service — this time in the form of presenting — but it feels a little strange.
I’m reading Aurora Couny All-Stars to my boys and they are loving it. My two younger boys — 10 and 9 — sat down to listen from the beginning. The 10-year-old ran off with the book after about the third session. He wasn’t able to wait for the next read-aloud. He didn’t devour it in one gulp, but has kept a steady pace about five chapters ahead of us. When something worrying happens during the read-aloud, he’ll give his brother an encouraging word or look. As I am winding up each chapter, I come to another of Deborah Wiles’ great hooks. I always have a child with an imploring look and a ‘one more chapter?’ request. The boys giggle at the over-the-top Finesse and cackle when House asserts himself (or swallows his toad). Their eyes got big when House explored Baby-Eater Boyd’s place after dark. Having “the Mamas” sign their boys up for an anniversary pagaent sponsored by a home-town soap opera star and having it scheduled for the exact same time as the annual ‘not-quite-Little League’ baseball game is a perfect conflict. There are many true moments in this tale for those of us who grew up in small Mississippi towns, but the concerns of the kids are universal. Grab this one and read it to kids — even if you have to borrow some.
Richard transformed the image from color to black and white. I like the textures. He was using his Nikon D200 and the Tamron macro lens. Does anyone know what this mushroom is called? The boys tell me the mushrooms are still out there — but they’re bigger. I wonder how big they’ll get. I’m working on my website — behind the scenes. Right now I’m gathering images for a short slideshow to tell the story of how I came to write about wolfsnails.
These popped up in the backyard. Richard decided they’d make a good image for the day. He grabbed the camera, but no tripod. Since the mushrooms were so low to the ground he decided he’d rather prop the camera on a pillow.
Another image from the early work file. This photograph won third (or honorable mention) in a PTA art contest, titled “What Makes Me Smile.” I took it as a 10th grader when my team (the Port Gibson High School Lady Waves) won the district finals. My sister Emilye is #14. We lost to the state champs that year (1982), but it was a great run. This was taken in the dressing room at Mendenhall. We beat Madison-Ridgeland. Francene (front right) and Emilye went on to play college ball at Macalester and this photograph appeared in an alumni magazine article (spring 2003) about women in sports.
Here I am taking photographs of the wolfsnail coming out of its shell. I needed to get so low that I had to turn the camera upside down on the tripod. It was hard to get used to looking through the upside down viewfinder. It made me all thumbs at first. Eventually, I got used to it, but I went back to right side up snapping as soon as I could.
Here it is! As I said in my previous post, it is just as I imagined it would be. Going back over the files tonight I counted more than 500 photographs of wolfsnails taken between 2003-2006. Then, in the little over a year since I got the Tamron macro lens, I have taken several thousand. It may seem hard to believe, but I remember taking the photograph that graces the cover. Sometimes, when you are looking through the viewfinder, you just know. (And then you hope the technical details worked, too.)
I guess I left you hanging there on the proofs. I wasn’t feeling at all well last week. Just getting my legs back. Meanwhile, the proofs came. I slit the package open carefully because they had to go back in the same box. I wiped and dried the kitchen table so I could lay them out and see them in the sunshine. First, I gobbled them up. Then, I took it very slowly — word by word, line by line, page by page. The short of it is — they looked great! No errors. (The Boyds Mills copyeditor found a few things in the backmatter; I’m glad for his/her care in that.) I would have liked to have seen a few of the photos printed a little lighter — and I said so. But that’s being very picky. Then, sigh, I had to slide them back in their plastic sheeting and back into the box. I taped down the label my editor had provided and called the delivery company. (Thank goodness for pickup service; I wasn’t in much shape to go out.) Here’s the most exciting part. When I reported in to my editor, I asked what would happen next. He says I may have a book in my hand in November!!! Boy, oh, boy, oh boy!
Some cool weather finally blew in. We basked in it all weekend. The boys were outside early and often and found this cicada. One kept watch while another brought the news inside. Richard dashed for the camera and tripod. I held the stick as he snapped. He used the Nikon D200 with the Tamron 90 mm lens. The sun was getting high enough in the sky to create some harsh highlights and shadows. We sought a spot with indirect light — heading to the corner of the porch where we took so many of the wolfsnail photographs.